Dozens of migrants who were camped on the street outside the Roosevelt Hotel in Midtown Manhattan have gone, after the city relocated them to a church in Queens.
The situation garnered widespread attention and concern when the crowd of migrants were left on the sidewalk for several days outside the hotel, which has been converted into a makeshift welcome center for newly-arrived refugees.
City workers were overwhelmed by the influx of asylum seekers at the hotel, causing them to scramble to find more palatable housing given the backlog.
The resulting chaotic scene stunned passersby, as dozens of migrants were penned-in on the sidewalk by police barricades for several days, with no access to basic necessities like toilets and beds.
As of Thursday evening, the situation along E. 45th Street finally improved, as the majority of the migrants sleeping outside the hotel had been transferred to a church in Long Island City, and others were relocated inside to the building’s lobby and ballrooms.
City officials have been pleading for help from other levels of government as the migrant crisis continues, with nearly 100,000 asylum seekers arriving in the Big Apple since last spring. Many of them had been bussed to New York at the direction of Republican governors in southern states, like Greg Abbott of Texas, who has sent over 21,000 refugees to cities outside his state in the past year.
Anne Williams-Isom, the city’s Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, pointed the finger at officials in the federal government for their alleged lack of support in dealing with the situation, which she said is likely to worsen in the coming months.
“It’s heartbreaking. No one’s happy about that. We need support and it doesn’t have to be that way. We need decompression. We need people to be able to work,” Williams-Isom said. “We need the federal government to come in and say that this is a federal emergency and declaration so that we would be able to help people settle.”
“I just can’t believe that the [Eric] Adams Administration is in the middle of a global crisis, literally. And I think that this is something that the federal government needs to be looking at.”
For his part, Mayor Adams met with the secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, last week to raise his concerns, and to advocate for work authorizations for migrants, which would allow them to more easily find employment — and potentially lift themselves out of the now-overwhelmed shelter system.
“Not only did we discuss the city’s federal funding needs, we also re-emphasized how crucial it is to expedite pathways to work authorization for those who are arriving and are already here,” Adams said in a statement following his July 27 meeting with Mayorkas. “Asylum seekers arriving to our country are seeking to build the American Dream, so it’s time we finally give them a shot at it.”
“We continue to do more than any other city in the nation, but we need additional support from our federal and state partners.”
As reports suggest that many more migrants will land in New York over the coming weeks, officials have been desperately trying to find places to house the new arrivals — including in Central Park and Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.
“We are making the best decisions that we can given the information that we get. If we could get a decompression strategy where the amount of people coming through the front door would slow down, I think that we would be able to manage this much better. But right now everything is on the table,” said Williams-Isom.